Lens hacking with software

Lens hacking with Adobe Camera Raw

Original images were 4032 by 2272 pixels. Images were cropped to 800 by 800 to show more detail. The image on the left is the in camera JPG created by the Olympus PEN E-PL2. The image on the right is the RAW file after adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw. Image was captured with a 1937 Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar at f/2 on an Olympus PEN E-PL2

Original images were 4032 by 2272 pixels. Images were cropped to 800 by 800 to show more detail. The image on the left is the in-camera JPG created by the Olympus PEN E-PL2. The image on the right is the RAW file after adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw. Image was captured with a 1937 Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar at f/2 on an Olympus PEN E-PL2

One possible reason why people give up on lens hacking is that they’re not shooting RAW and adjusting the RAW files. Several images like the one on the left would be a good reason to either give up on lens hacking or search YouTube for Camera RAW tutorials.

If your version of Photoshop will not open your camera’s RAW files, go to Adobe’s website and download their free DNG converter. Once you get your images converted to DNGs, you can open them in any version of Photoshop.

Just double click on the RAW file and make your adjustments with the buttons below the histogram.

The Basic, Tone Curve and Detail adjustment panels in Adobe Photoshop's Camera Raw that were used to process the RAW file of the thistle.

The Basic, Tone Curve and Detail adjustment panels in Adobe Photoshop’s Camera Raw that were used to process the RAW file of the thistle.

Open the RAW file, make the adjustments and save it as a PSD. When you’re ready to upload or print it, convert it to a jpg. It’s really not that difficult.

A few words about the lens

The pre-war Carl Zeiss Jena 5.8 cm f/2 Biotar serial number 2009108 was made in 1937 according to published reports. Lenses numbered 1,930,150 – 2,219,775 were made in 1937, two years after Kodachrome and one year after Agfacolor Neu were introduced.

During the 1930s, if your lens had an air bubble in the glass it was an excellent lens. This Biotar has two and it was made for the Exakta.

Air bubbles in the glass were once a characteristic of an excellent lens. It also has some damage to the coating on the front element.

Air bubbles in the glass were once a characteristic of an excellent lens. It also has some damage to the coating on the front element.

A "pristine" lens has no internal dust. Because light difracts around objects, the sensor doesn't see the dirt.

A “pristine” lens has no internal dust. Because light difracts around objects, the sensor doesn’t see the dirt.

A 5.8cm f/2 Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar manufactured in 1937.

A 5.8cm f/2 Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar manufactured in 1937. The 40.5mm ventilated metal lens hood can be found here for under $5.

Lens hacking with Photomatix Pro

Original images were 4032 by 2272 pixels. Images were cropped to 800 by 800 to show more detail. The image on the left is the RAW file processed with Photomatix. The image on the right is the RAW file after adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw. Image was captured with a 1937 Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar at f/2 on an Olympus PEN E-PL2

Original images were 4032 by 2272 pixels. Images were cropped to 800 by 800 to show more detail. The image on the left is the RAW file processed with RAW file processed in Photomatix. The image on the right is the RAW file after adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw. Image was captured with a 1937 Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar at f/2 on an Olympus PEN E-PL2

A popular misconception is that Photomatix needs a bracketed set of at least three images. It doesn’t.

A pseudo HDR image can be created with a single 16 bit RAW image, but unlike older versions of Adobe Camera RAW, a conversion to DNG is not necessary. Because the processed image has to be saved as a  8-BIT TIFF, 16-BIT TIFF or a JPG, an image editor like Photoshop Elements or Gimp is needed to make more adjustments, resize and crop.

The adjustment panels in Photomatix that were used to process the RAW file of the thistle in the second image.

The adjustment panels in Photomatix that were used to process the RAW file of the thistle in the second image.